This year Vogue Charity Fashion Show is thrilled to be partnering with Camp Trillium, a camp that provides children battling cancer and their families with recreational summer camp experiences to enhance the quality of life of the entire family.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Emily Tidman to learn about her family's first hand experience with Camp Trillium and the positive impact that it had on their lives.
Emily attended Camp Trillium first as a camper, then as a counsellor from ages 10 to 18. Her sister, Katie, volunteered at the camp as well, and her brother, Matt, still attends the camp and is now a CIT. Emily’s family is very closely connected to the camp, as it provided them with the opportunity to spend valuable time together. Thanks to Camp Trillium, Emily and Katie were given the opportunity to attend camp with their brother and create memories in an environment free of worries. This experience is something that the family is incredibly grateful for and cherishes profoundly.
After speaking with Emily about Camp Trillium and her time there, it became apparent that the counsellors are very passionate about what they do. The counsellors want to ensure that every single camper has a magical and authentic summer camp experience, one that normalizes cancer and allows campers to just be kids. Every session, the staff plans a theme day to bring the whole camp together. For each theme day, counsellors work tirelessly to transform the camp into a theme park involving any number of fun games and activities! Emily described one summer when they transformed the grounds into a camp-wide Super Mario Bros game. It all started with a dramatic skit performed for the campers to set the scene. A counsellor dressed as Princess Peach appeared to the campers as being “stolen” by Bowser, who rode off in a boat and disappeared with Princess Peach. The entire day involved games pertaining to the plot of the skit, and ended with a pizza and ice cream celebration when Princess Peach was saved! This is just one of many stories that demonstrates the commitment that each volunteer and counsellor at Camp Trillium brings to their job. They aim to provide every camper, regardless of what brought them to camp in the first place, with a truly magical summer.
While grand spectacles serve to facilitate a positive summer experience for campers, Camp Trillium also focuses on the small day-to-day things that make every camper feel special. After attending Camp Trillium as a camper for a few summers, Emily and her siblings continued to be involved in the camp as counsellors and volunteers. Through their experiences, they became aware of the lengths that the camp goes to in order to ensure that every individual feels comfortable, safe, and accepted. As a camper herself, Emily remembered having to follow rules like wearing a hat at all times and wearing one piece bathing suits. Counsellors lead by example in this regard, and thus, to the campers, the rules felt less regulatory and more like norms. As a counsellor, Emily then discovered that these rules were put in place to provide campers undergoing cancer treatments with privacy. Campers received both respect and discretion if they had thinning hair or surgical scars, because everyone at the camp was taught to follow these “rules”. These practices were intended to normalize cancer and essentially place every camper on the same playing field.
Camp Trillium provides children and their families, regardless of their health status, the chance to explore their interests and experience an authentic summer camp experience. Music is a central theme in many people's overnight camp experience, as you sit around a fire, roast marshmallows, and sing songs, while completely living in the moment. When asked about what she was grateful for about going to camp, she explained how the opportunity to attend camp with her brother was something she is extremely grateful for, but also Camp Trillium was where she got to further explore her love of music. It was where she became confident playing guitar in front of people, and writing and performing songs with her sister, with whom she continues to perform with today.
In many ways, the Tidman family’s time at Camp Trillium closely resembled stories that many of us who grew up going to summer camps can relate to. But beyond that, Camp Trillium had a unique and deeply moving impact on many families like the Tidmans. It allowed them to forget about the difficulties of cancer and enjoy spending time together. It is evident that Camp Trillium works relentlessly to create this distinct, extraordinary experience for campers, and acts as a safe haven for kids who have been forced to grow up too fast. It allows kids to just be kids.
Camp Trillium is completely funded By the genorosity of donors, and these donations ensure that every child can continue to come to camp cost-free! if you want to help even more children and their families have a memorable summer experience similar to the Tidman's, donate here: